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27 May 2021
How China’s singles are reshaping the consumer landscape
Purchase behaviourGreater China
The number of single adults in China reached 240 million in 2018, according to official stats. And the number of those singles living alone is expected to reach 100 million by the end of this year, making singles a key consumer segment.
Such large numbers are having a big effect on consumer spending patterns, as singles have different shopping needs and as brands adapt to meet those needs. Singles have become a massive new consumer bloc that’s largely characterised by self-indulgent spending.
It’s estimated that some 40% of singles in major, or first-tier, cities belong to the “moonlight clan” – young people living from pay cheque to pay cheque. That percentage rises sharply in fourth- and fifth-tier cities with some 76% of young singles running out of money towards the end of each month.
With few responsibilities, singles enjoy spending what cash they do have on treating themselves – according to Nielsen, 42% of singles spend for self-indulgence, compared to 27% of partnered consumers.
Brands are responding
New products are coming to market to meet singles’ consumption habits, from one-person dining in restaurants where single-person tables are set apart, to smaller home appliances, such as electric cookers, half the size of a normal one, and one-person travel packages.
In first-tier cities, new apartments tailored to singles are proving popular – the apartments themselves are not unusual, what makes the blocks different is that they have large communal areas for residents to chat with each other.
"Single consumers do not bear the responsibility of supporting their parents and children. They will mainly spend for themselves and to please themselves only," Yin Zhichao, the head of the School of Finance at the Capital University of Economics and Business